The Shortest Managerial Reigns in English Football

Spurs released manager Nuno Espirito Santo after just four months in charge, but that doesn't come close to being the shortest managerial appointment in Premier League history.

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Four months may not seem like much time to change the fortunes of a Premier League team, but compared to others, Nuno enjoyed a positively lengthy reign in the manager’s seat at Tottenham. Here are some examples of managers who barely got comfortable on the hot seat before being sent packing or quitting of their own volition.

Tony Pulis was relieved of his position as manager by Sheffield Wednesday in 2020 after a reign which lasted just 45 days, and a record of nine losses and one win. Wednesday had started the season with a deduction of six points due to ‘financial irregularities’, which didn’t make Pulis’ job any easier, but the results since he took charge have seen the Championship team mired in the relegation zone. While a month and a half can hardly be regarded as a lengthy tenure in any profession, surprisingly, Pulis’ reign is not even in the top five shortest in the history of the English game.

Here is our list of the five managers who lasted even less time in the top job:

31 Days: Paul Scholes – Oldham Athletic, 2019

Scholes is rightly lauded as having been one of the greatest English midfield players of recent years, but unfortunately his managerial career was less impressive. His first – and to date only – job as a full-time manager lasted just a month before he handed in his resignation. As a local lad, Scholes went into the position with struggling Oldham hoping that he could be the one to pull them out of the depths of Division 2, but quickly found that the job was even trickier than he had foreseen. Disputes with the board over player selection meant that Scholes soon packed his bags, leaving a record of 1 win, 3 draws and 3 losses behind him.

28 Days: Paul Hart – QPR, 2010

Paul Hart enjoyed a long career as a footballer, bouncing around the lower divisions and accumulating a total of 567 league appearances. His career as a manager followed a similar path, as he held the top job with a number of clubs before being hired by Queens Park Rangers in December of 2009. Like Scholes, Hart quit the role rather than being given the boot, saying that he was “very unhappy with certain situations”. This was interpreted by some as a reference to dealing with then-owner Flavio Briatore, who had previously enjoyed a rather ‘colourful’ past, and who himself stepped away from the club in 2010.

8 Days: Billy McKinlay – Watford, 2014

Unlike Hart and Scholes, Billy McKinlay had no say in his departure when he was replaced as Watford manager after just eight days in charge. McKinlay is a former Scotland international player, and his CV boasts coaching roles with clubs from around Europe. He found himself in the manager’s chair at Watford when his predecessor Oscar Garcia had to step away for health reasons, but clearly owner Gino Pozzo had his own ideas about who should inherit the role, appointing ex-Chelsea player Slavisa Jokanovic to take over. McKinlay can console himself with the fact that he maintained an unbeaten record during his short stint, claiming a win and a draw in those eight days.

3 Days: Dave Bassett – Crystal Palace, 1984

Dave Bassett is one of the characters of the English game, a no-nonsense manager who enjoyed lengthy and successful spells as manager of the ‘Crazy Gang’ at Wimbledon and later at Sheffield United. Perhaps the strains of dealing with the notorious characters at Wimbledon led to him accepting an offer to become manager of then Second Division side Crystal Palace after three years with The Dons. He quickly had a change of heart, refusing to sign his contract with Palace and returning to Wimbledon within 72 hours, citing “unfinished business” with his old club. Having gained promotion for Wimbledon within a couple of years, it seems that he made the right call.

10 Minutes: Leroy Rosenior – Torquay United, 2007

Compared to Leroy Rosenior’s fleeting managerial experience with Torquay United, Tony Pulis’ 45-day-spell at Wednesday seems like an absolute aeon. Rosenior holds the unenviable record for the shortest ever period as manager in the history of English football, albeit through no fault of his own. He was appointed to the head job at the same time as the managing interest in the club was being transferred to a new consortium of owners. The incoming chief executive, Colin Lee, immediately installed his own choice as manager, meaning that Rosenior was out of a job before the ink on his contract had time to dry.

Football is a notoriously temperamental business, and doubtless there will be new names added to the list above in the coming years. That being said, it’s hard to imagine that the luckless Leroy Rosenior will be knocked off the top spot anytime soon!

Ross O’Connor is an experienced sports writer with a particular interest in the NFL, pro boxing and football. He has written for numerous online and print publications on sports and a variety of other topics.
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